Last year was truly amazing: lots of travel, career advancement, adventures, and a few shots at love that didn’t last, but were great experiences. However, in all of this celebrating and happiness, I let my health fall to the side – and indulged in whatever I wanted while skipping those runs I used to love.
So when 2015 came around, I made a pact with myself: I was going to clean up my diet and get that sexy confidence back that I lost in the 15 pounds I gained. First thing to take off my palette?
Though it’s the easiest ice breaker on a first (or third) date, all of that sugar really plays it part to pack on the pounds, so I decided I’d go 30 whole days without taking a sip of a drink. I was nervous, not only because I knew it’d be tough (I seriously don’t think I’ve gone more than a few days without a glass of red wine since I turned 21), but I was anxious about how it would affect my social life and my typically busy dating life, too.
Guess what? I made it 30 days without drinking. And in that time, I went on three sober dates. Here’s how they went:
Ice Skating and Diner
When a handsome fella asked me out after some online chatting back and forth, it was my first opportunity to propose something other than the ‘grabbing drinks’ he offered. I casually told him that I was taking a dry January and asked if he would possibly be up for something else instead. Originally from Canada and now living in New York City, he suggested one of my all-time favorite winter activities: ice skating! We met in Central Park and logged laps for nearly three hours until we finally were exhausted (and cold!). We then grabbed coffee at a diner – he skipped booze, too! – and then we went our separate ways. He didn’t even seem to mind, and said that it was a nice, refreshing break for him, too.
At a Bar
Another guy asked me to meet him at a bar for a quick drink after work (we were set up by friends) – and when I told him I was happy to meet him but I’d grab some sparkling water with lime instead, he was cautious. He actually asked me if I cared if he drank – I didn’t – and he decided he’d refrain from drinking to support me. The date wasn’t all that stellar (there isn’t always a spark, ya know?), but our conversation was strong because we weren’t slurring our words or relying on liquid courage instead of actual, concrete topics. The entire date cost $0 because we didn’t order anything – sorry, bartender – but it was still enjoyable.
At a Restaurant
I was the most worried about this date because I really liked the guy. We met in December at a holiday party and finally found the time to go out in mid-January when I was less than two weeks from the booze-free finish line. He made us reservations at a nice Mexican restaurant that’s known for their creative margaritas. Before I agreed, I let him know about my challenge, and he didn’t seem to mind. When he arrived, he did have a drink, but only one with his dinner. And though I did really want to grab one too because I was nervous around him, we made up for the lack of drinking with an extended conversation. And a second date.
So what did I learn about meeting people when you aren’t having another round to keep the date going? You spend more time getting to know your potential partner than you do when you’re sitting super-close at a crowded bar, yelling over the music and the crowd. Though it is nice to share a bottle of wine together on the couch once you’re in a relationship (or about to be in one) – I will continue to make an effort to go on at least one sober date with the next guy I’m interested in. There are so many more things to do besides drinking, and it really lets you see who a person is when you take away the mask of alcohol.
After all, if you eventually end up together, every night can’t be sultry and romantic at a dark bar – you have to learn the day-to-day things, too. And that, I want to learn about when I’m fully aware, listening, and most importantly, open hearted to it… and not just when wine tells me to kiss him because he’s cute.
This post was originally published on eHarmony.